Comparative Technologies / Painting: More on Ghosts with Cartoons for the Next Millennium


Session Title:

  • Short Paper Presentations

Presentation Title:

  • Comparative Technologies / Painting: More on Ghosts with Cartoons for the Next Millennium



  • … the re-evolutionary war – World War Four – has begun. The new technological revolution is plopping as advertisement, as commodity, through the letterbox whilst simultaneously and surreptitiously altering our conceptual maps as fundamentally as the first Industrial Revolution. I outlined some sweeping overview comments in the deliberately polemical paper, The War for World Four (reproduced in the ISEA98 Book of Abstracts), concerning the responsibilities of “the artist” in the world of a new technological revolution and began mapping a changing world diachronically. As an extension to this theme, it could be posited that the cumulative effects of world change may actually be initiating a paradigm category shift in the meaning of the term “artist”. As with the shift from the artist-as-artisan to a new, more contemporary, meaning set for the term “artist” in the Renaissance, one may suspect a possible major “keyword” shift in the meanings of “art” and “artist”, in the evolving future, that should attract the attention of a budding Raymond Williams. Whilst these concerns are of enormous importance, “The Terror” was also to be about taking stock, allowing the past to speak rather than be elided or forgotten in a retro-modernist, pseudo-revolutionary technological fervour.

    Painting, the technology which went hand-in-hand with the evolution of the contemporary meaning of the term “artist”, has died more times than Doctor Who. It is an activity that is often said to be terrorised by the advent of new technology. It was said, after all, to be threatened by the advent of the photograph. As a practicing artist, it seems to me that painting is superbly placed, on its deathbed or in its grave, to observe the convolutions of contemporary contexts. As a healthy ghost, like John Lennon or the undead Elvis Presley, it still seems to be hanging around haunting our cultural spaces. It is part of the rich heritage (cultural baggage) with which we either sit down at a computer terminal or enter the studio. It is true to say that the mood is abroad for the abandonment of the sophisticated technology of painting.

    This presentation will say the “Unsaid” and declare a necrophiliac relationship between me and the dead technology to see what light it casts on the advantages and limitations of new technologies. “Sexier and livelier” as the opposite position may appear on the surface, I have not abandoned an interest in painting, even when such an abandon-ment would be easier and more fashionable. This paper explains why that interest is still alive, amongst other interests, in the face of a context in which all the ‘art monitors attached to the body of painting appear to display a flat-line beeeeeep. Painting is pronounced dead again. As an artist, I want to share these thoughts on painting: to contextualise painting and to try to discern if it still has value(s) in a cyberian landscape.